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The Ugly Truth About Cosmetology Schools and Discrimination

by Mike Donnelly • October 30, 2018

Madeline Kraft’s ACT score wasn’t good enough for cosmetology school.

She tallied a 28 on the exam, a result that usually means getting accepted to most schools with a hefty scholarship package. A 28 ACT score places a student in the 90th percentile of test-takers and can even earn a shot at America’s elite colleges.

But a cosmetology school demanded that Madeline’s mom provide reams of documentation and proof that her homeschool graduate had studied the courses on her parent-issued transcript.

Change of Plans

Madeline Kraft had been accepted to a four-year private college with an excellent reputation. She even earned their highest academic scholarship, but when she came face to face with the financial reality of a debt load as high as $50,000 and an English degree that might result in a teaching job earning $35,000 to start, Madeline decided to rethink her plans.

Madeline has an interest in hair styling and decided that rather than take on so much student debt, she would pursue cosmetology. She wanted to aim high, so she researched and learned that Aveda Institute was a top choice.

The school is selective. Their graduates are sought after and earn higher-than-average starting wages.

Madeline applied, and all seemed to go well until the school’s admission officer began to ask for more and more documentation.

Simply Too Much

Mrs. Kraft said she found the requests unreasonable and overwhelming.

“I was shocked by the amount of paper work they requested,” she told us. “I’m glad we finally got this worked out, but no one should have to go through this. Madeline was accepted to one of the more competitive four-years schools in the region, and they didn’t question anything nor demand any documents other than her diploma, transcript, and test scores.”

The Krafts asked Home School Legal Defense for help, and we were ready.

As a senior attorney with HSLDA, I have seen this sort of trouble before. Although we’ve improved things somewhat in our interaction with cosmetology schools, they still tend to give homeschoolers a good deal of difficulty.

In this instance the school, which I have dealt with previously, pointed to a Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) webpage that seemed to indicate that school officials could ask for more documentation.

The web page is misleading, but because of approaching deadlines we didn’t have time to argue with the school. Madeline had already postponed her start date due to this documentation issue and risked missing more classes if Mrs. Kraft didn’t capitulate to the school’s demands.

More Red Tape

Although homeschool parents are required to keep two years of records, the law provides that parents only must produce this documentation in certain situations where a homeschool family is being prosecuted for truancy. However, the MDE webpage suggests that employers and colleges have the authority to ask for such documentation. Most colleges and universities are more than satisfied with homeschool transcripts and diplomas. In this case, the beauty school decided it was going to go a lot further.

In HSLDA’s experience, vocational schools tend to be stricter due to misunderstandings surrounding federal funding guidelines for high school diplomas. Although these guidelines state that homeschooled students may self-certify the completion of their high school education for the purpose of qualifying for federal financial aid, cosmetology schools go a step further and often seek to document for themselves that a family has complied with state law.

In this case, Mrs. Kraft was able to reconstruct her daughter’s education to the satisfaction of the admission staff at the beauty school. As a result, Madeline could complete the admissions process and is now on her way to achieving her goal of starting a career debt-free.

Time for Improvements

Though I am certainly pleased Madeline resolved her enrollment problem, I believe we need a legislative solution. There is no justification for treating homeschool students differently from private or public-school students.

HSLDA has been able to get 10 states to pass legislation that limits such discrimination. A law like this in Minnesota would have certainly helped Madeline.

HSLDA will be working with Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators to evaluate the possibility of such legislation to prevent situations like this from happening to our homeschool community.

Mrs. Kraft told me she appreciated being able to turn to HSLDA for help.

“HSLDA is a real source of confidence for me,” she said. “I knew I could turn to Mike for help and he assisted me along the way. I hope that Madeline’s experience can be used as an example to help prevent such discrimination in the future.”

Discrimination against homeschoolers in careers and college is a problem HSLDA’s legal team are constantly working to solve. Even though homeschooling is well known there are still areas where we must fight this battle. Will you join us as we make homeschooling possible for everyone? Together we can preserve this important freedom!.

See Related Story: “Dear Registrar: Did the Cloud Eat My Transcript?”

See Related Story: “Grad’s Struggle Clears Way for Others to Take Vocational Exam”

Michael Donnelly

Senior Counsel, Director of Global Outreach

Mike is an attorney, writer, adjunct professor of government, and frequent media spokesperson on homeschooling, freedom, and parental rights. Read more.

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